Max Verstappen had to dig deep to fight back to be second in F1 British GP after early struggles, as Christian Horner reflects how it panned out.

It wasn’t a straightforward F1 British GP outing for Red Bull’s Verstappen. Having got through McLaren’s Lando Norris on Lap 1, the Dutchman came under tremendous pressure as the initial rain approached the Silverstone circuit.

He was left powerless in defence against Norris as his teammate Oscar Piastri too got through Verstappen. The slippery conditions even allowed a distant Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz to catch the back of the Dutchman, but he managed to hold on.

The decisive factor was Red Bull’s pit call where he edged out both the McLaren cars and even Mercedes’ George Russell, but his DNF helped him breathe a sigh of relief. The hard tyre choice for the final stint added cherry on the cake in the fight back.

He managed to get through Norris for second and tried to catch Lewis Hamilton before having to settle for second in fine recovery. “The beginning was not very good,” said Verstappen. “I mean, I tried to keep up, but I just ran out of tyres. I mean, everything was running hot and I just struggled for grip. So then Lando got by. Then Oscar got by.

“It started to rain. I had no grip as well there. I didn’t want to take too much risk as well because it didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel comfortable. So I was like, ‘I’ll just sit here and try to survive’. And yeah, that’s what I did. And at one point, even Carlos rocked up at the party. So I was like, ‘geez, this is a really bad afternoon’. But then, yeah, we just kept it on track, made the right calls from the slick to the Inter, and then from the Inter back to the slick tyre, which just basically kept me in contention, really.

“I mean, by making the right calls today, we were there at the right time. And to the end, with the Hard tyre, that was the right call for us, definitely. So we could push on the tyre, because the Medium already wasn’t good enough for us. So to the end to go flat out on the Hard was the best we could do and we finished second.

“At one point it was looking like P5 or P6 even. So yeah, on a poor afternoon I would say in terms of performance to be second, I’ll take that. I just didn’t have the pace. I couldn’t follow what they were doing in front of me. And that’s something, of course, that we need to look at,” summed up Verstappen who hailed the calls made by the team.

The constant discussion back and forth and his own assessment of the conditions readily helped them regain second. “It’s a constant discussion that I have with GP, you know, with the radar, he tells me the information he has as well as he can,” said Verstappen. “And then as a driver, of course, at one point if you don’t feel like you can continue on a slick or you think now it’s time to go to the Inter, you have to shout over the radio that you’re coming in.

“So that’s what we did. And then it’s the same from Inter to slick. Of course, the team can sometimes help you a little bit more with that if someone is on a slick already. But at the end of the day, the sun was coming out, the track was still drying up quite quickly from the last few days even and I took a bit of risk. Not being 100% sure this is the right lap, but we went for it and it was the right lap at the end of the day.

“Overall, over one lap, it didn’t look too bad. I think it was just pace in the race. We just didn’t have the pace. I couldn’t follow the deg of the others. And that’s something, of course, that we need to understand,” summed up Verstappen, as team boss Horner had his lengthy say on all what transpired in Silverstone which included a win for arch rivals Mercedes and Hamilton.

Got P2 when maximum one time was P5/P6, Verstappen’s drive –

Horner: “It was a very weird race because on the medium tyre at the start, one would have to say that it looked like Mercedes had the pace and had things under control, and they seemed to have McLaren covered and we were just falling off the back of that – first of all getting passed by Lando and then getting passed by Piastri. At a certain point, I was starting to think that Carlos Sainz was starting to close down. Then, I felt like we got the call onto the inter bang on. We had a really good outlap from Max – he was five seconds quicker in the middle sector which leapfrogged him ahead of Russell and Piastri, who they hung out for another lap. But then the next three or four laps, we were nowhere and it was like that extra lap we had taken out of the tyre had really hurt us.

“But then it started to calm down and, as the circuit started to move back towards slicks, suddenly Max was the quickest car on the circuit again. He was coming back at both the Mercedes and McLaren ahead – so that was coming our way. A great stop and a call to go onto the hard tyre and Max’s pace thereafter, he was circa half a second a lap quicker in the middle sector, and just kept coming back and back past Lando and with another lap or two. Who knows, he might have passed Lewis. Lots of data and information to take out of that to try and understand there different fluctuations, because at different points in time, different cars looked quick. It started off as Mercedes. Then suddenly it looked like McLaren had everything under control and then suddenly in the second half of the race, Max started coming back and nearly won it. For the fans and for you guys, a fantastic race. But obviously, a lot to try and understand where the fluctuations are coming from.”

Verstappen getting cleared, Mercedes pace –

Horner: “The overspeed of the McLaren was so big that they could have gone either side. I  haven’t spoken to Max, but I can only assume that he was focused on having the fastest racing line that he could have to not lose time to the car behind. If anybody can explain the pace of their car in today’s race, they would be doing very well because it seems to move around. The Mercedes has always been strong in the cooler conditions and they looked to have things, and George looked to have things, pretty much in control.

“Then Lewis came alive as it started to rain and the McLaren really came alive and passed both of us. It was moving around depending on what was going on. In those conditions, you’d expect Max to then really come alive as well, but he was really struggling at that point. Then, as the circuit started to dry out, the pace arrived back and we were at times six, seven tenths a lap quicker than Lewis and Lando.”

Strategy calls –

Horner: “A large amount but that is in conjunction with the pit wall. You’ve got to have a good relationship, the driver-engineer relationship, working with the strategist, the spotters, everything has to come together. Max was giving us great information and we picked the right tyre at the end of the race, we got the calls at the right time and he delivered on it. Everything has to be working in harmony. Regarding last stint, a couple of reasons; it seemed the soft tyre was rubbish in the first stint with the drivers that had it. The front opened up very quickly. We saw that a little bit on Friday.

“The hard tyre was more robust and he felt it was better for us. We almost didn’t care what the others put on because we knew that the hard tyre was better for us. We had a bit of info from Checo from the beginning of the race that it seemed to have performed pretty well. What was baffling for us was that McLaren was the only team that had a new medium to them and they chose not to run it. It would’ve been an ideal tyre for those conditions. The hard tyre at the end of the race was very strong, particularly in the second sector, the high speed sector, Max was massively quicker than the cars ahead.”

Qualifying damage, normal weekend –

Horner: “It’s all about tyres. It’s all about the tyre working at a certain point in time, a certain condition – whether it’s hot, cold. Different cars are working the tyres in different ways and you saw an extremity of that as the circuit went from damp to wet to back to dry. Regarding damage, the floor yesterday was totally trashed, so actually, the lap-time he did in quali to be as close as he was – the floor was like something out of Scrapheap Challenge that the mechanics had managed to put back together – it was super-impressive. So, his laptime yesterday, to only be a tenth off of Lando, I thought was very encouraging.

“We’ve got to look at the amount of load. First, it was 100 points of load and then suddenly we managed to recover a decent portion of that with the repairs that the mechanics were able to do between the sessions. But of course, it’s not just the load. It’s then how it changes the balance. Suddenly, he had got no front end and was having to have a little lift in Copse, whereas it was absolutely flat previously. So it took away that balance. If it were dry weekend, it would have been very close. But then the bit that I’m sure every team in the top five – or probably up and down the grid – will be looking at is why were we quick at different times in the race, what were the differentiating factors.”

Win for Hamilton –

Horner: “Look, I think first of all, we have to congratulate Lewis on winning this race. I though he drove a very good race today. He was a deserving winner. And of course, it was a hugely emotional thing and for any driver to win a race nine times is an outstanding achievement. And to have won it here in the UK, which obviously is very special to him as a British driver, he should be very proud of that. We take our cap off to him today and he did a very good job.”

Here’s Max Verstappen losing out to Lando Norris:

Here’s retaking the place:

Here’s how F1 British GP panned out

Here’s first look at F1 movie + say from Lewis Hamilton

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